Many management leaders in a wide range of industries have worked up through the ranks, often beginning as entry-level rookies. These leaders often achieved success in their fields and industries because of the career enhancement tactics that they followed on their way up the ladder.
This Lesson in Leadership gives sales managers 10 career enhancement strategies so they can coach their team toward career success.
How many times have you thought about creating a plan? If you’re like many people you’ve probably thought about creating plans for some specific purpose and you may have even done some planning.
Here is a great reason for planning:
When you don’t know where you’re going… all roads lead there.
Paraphrased – Lewis Carroll
It’s easy to end up lost or unfulfilled when you lack direction and purpose. Most people seem to have some idea of where their life is heading. Very few actually create written plans for the trip. We all possess the ability to achieve our own happiness, and we should employ the tools that will produce for us the future we have chosen. In sales and consultative selling, a clear plan is the quickest path to success.
We are all moving toward our future. We will go happily and willingly, or we will go kicking and screaming. But, we’re all going.
Tomorrow never comes. Some people are waiting on tomorrow. They think, “I’ll start my planning… tomorrow. I’ll change my attitude… tomorrow.” Tomorrow, I’m going to start figuring out what I want and how to get it.” Tomorrow never comes.
If we are going to get the most out of the job we have today and the work we do, we must start to evaluate our current position and define what our intentions are for our current and possible future roles with the company.
As your managers, we know some of you are occasionally frustrated with various components of your job. It’s O.K. We sometimes get frustrated too. The perspective we prefer to focus on is:
What do I expect to get out of the relationship I have with this company? And, am I getting what I need in order to be happy? If not, what am “I” doing about it?
We believe every employee should routinely ask him or herself these questions. We want you to be happy at work. We want you to feel productive here. The truth is… if you determine what you want and will share that with us, it makes it a lot easier for us to help you obtain it. One of the best ways to guide you is through sales coaching. We have some suggestions and tools that help us managers to get the most out of our job and we’d like to pass those strategies on to you.
Ten Career Enhancement Strategies:
1. Be Aware
Take mental notes. Stay alert and be aware of the people and situations around you. This awareness will provide you with the opportunities that we all need to learn new things that could enhance our situation, career and potential.
2. Learn Something New
Try to learn something new every day. This doesn’t mean you have to try to learn a new skill every day. It may be something like a better way to communicate with peers, your supervisor or other departments. It may be as simple as choosing to work each day with a positive attitude and happy disposition.
3. Align Yourself With Your Company
Understand what the company’s mission and goals are. Attempt to find ways to contribute to the “big picture.” Understanding your role and how it fits into the scheme of things will help you to gain a sense of personal value and take you off of the home team bench by putting you in the game. Ask yourself, “How can I make a difference from my current role or position?” We all know that opportunity is more likely to come to the person who applies him or herself. Figure out what the company wants to accomplish and find a way to participate in that achievement.
4. Look for Your Next Opportunity
By engaging yourself and your job you begin to create opportunity for yourself which, in many cases, would not otherwise occur. It becomes much easier to get engaged and stay engaged when you’ve identified the next step in your career. The most important question in taking advantage of any opportunity or solving any problem is, “what am I willing to do next?” Engaging yourself helps you to create personal satisfaction and engaging your job helps you to uncover opportunities for your own happiness. We know if you don’t get what you need on your current job you may begin to look elsewhere. We’d love to have you continue to work with us!
5. Do the Right Thing
Honesty, trust, integrity and credibility are the cornerstones of all great relationships. Regardless of our role in the company, we all have a responsibility to perform our job function to the very best of our ability. Let people know that you care. Like you, we also care about our clients, the people we work with and the company mission. Doing what is right is always the right thing to do. Consider that everyone eventually leaves the company. How will people remember you? What legacy will you leave behind? Help those that struggle. Be an inspiration to those in need. Always tell the truth and, if you make a promise, do your very best to keep it. Doing these things helps us all to live a life worth living.
6. Be Proactive
Look for ways to improve what you do. No matter what your role with the company, those people who look for ways to make things better commonly find better ways. Those who expect things to worsen commonly find problems as well. Make the choice to proactively participate. You have great value and so does your perspective on our business. Find a way to participate beyond the company’s normal expectations for an employee in your role and we promise it won’t go unnoticed. Sales training and sales management training can help you to improve the skills that you bring to the company. We believe your ideas and creativity have merit. Please allow us the opportunity to understand them so we can partner with you to make things better for everyone.
7. Communicate Up
We don’t really want to tell you what “to do.” We would prefer you make those decisions on your own. Still, we would like to know what “you’re doing.” So help us. Please communicate up. We may have some special insight, which might help you use your time more effectively. Or we might possess some special knowledge that could make your job a little easier. When employees keep managers informed of plans and outcomes, it helps us to more often work from the “same page.” Besides, we want to give you feedback. Communicating up allows us more opportunity to express exactly what we think about the job you’re doing and provides a forum for us to thank and recognize your good work.
8. Be Patient with Peers
We know you bond with and appreciate some peers more than others. That’s natural. We are all more likely to appreciate those people we like. And yet, everyone has value and the potential to contribute at some level. Be patient with everyone and you may find that someone will actually contribute in an unexpected way. A new employee that knows very little about her new job may bring a level of enthusiasm that has declined in a more tenured player. The more tenured player might use this same enthusiasm to pull himself out of a slump. One the other hand, tenured players may possess certain knowledge about the nuances of a job or a company that newer employees might find useful. This contribution may assist the newer employee in improving productivity or personal satisfaction. Every one around you may, in some way, benefit your growth, development and opportunity on the job. So… be patient with peers! Leverage your time, talent, attitude, skills and abilities with others.
9. Balance Work with Play
We’re sure you’ve heard, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Work hard. Make a difference. Make improvements and smile while you do these things. Enjoy the time that you have with family and friends. Enjoy hobbies. Get plenty of exercise and eat healthfully. Remember that we don’t live to work, we work to live. So live well and balance work with play.
10. Create a Career Map and Review it Regularly
We are all better prepared when we know where it is we want to go. By creating a Career Map that consists of Values, Interests, Attitudes, Competencies and Career Strategy we define our best possible work related situations. By reviewing this map regularly, we keep the vision of our priorities and desires fresh in our minds so we may most easily uncover and identify the best path to our chosen future. Understanding your current selling skills can empower you to value your strengths and improve those areas that are a challenge to you.